Every parent knows the struggle of feeding vegetables to their picky-eating kids. Even if you tell them leafy greens are good for their health, your plead would still meet a stubborn refusal.
There are times when parents have the mentality that feeding vegetables to their kids is mandatory, they end up forgetting the kind of experience they are giving their kids.
Ask yourself, how old were you before you could finally eat a whole olive without making a face? If it took years for you to allow vegetables to enter your mouth, it will most likely take the same amount of time for your children.
Thousands of years ago, our ancestors stayed away from bitter and sour-tasting food because they usually make them sick. In fact, they found that some of these food sources were poisonous.
Evolution has simply led children to like sweet foods and dislike anything else. This is because of the adaptive and survival mechanism passed down to us from our ancestors years ago.
Of course, nobody really knew how sugar can affect our health in a bad way, as obesity was never a problem back then. But because our lives today evolved more into a sedentary style, eating too much sweets can cause blood sugar problems, obesity and even diabetes.
How do you exactly get your picky-eating kids to eat their vegetables without battling at your dining table? Here are great tips you can follow.
Repetition is Key
You have to go through repetition before your child accepts new food by offering vegetables to your child every meal. If he or she refuses, do not get upset or start pleading. Instead, move on and try another day. You might need to do this for at least ten times before they even try tasting their peas or carrots. So try not to prepare too much vegetables for them to prevent waste.
Set A Good Example
Prepare vegetables that you personally like and eat them with enthusiasm. Show you child that you love eating vegetables and that you will never leave any of it on your plate. Sooner or later, your child will grow curious and try such vegetables as well. You can also encourage healthy eating by story-telling. Tell your kids how their favorite hockey player loves to eat their vegetables to stay strong.
Start With Sweet Vegetables
For now, it is best to bend the rules a bit to accommodate to their palates. Since children prefer a sweet taste. vegetables like carrots, squash or peas are great starters for younger children. If their liking for sweet vegetables has grown and they have become accustomed to eating their usual veggies, you can slowly start introducing bitter tasting choices like asparagus, spinach or Brussels sprouts.
Some children like certain preparations of vegetables. They can even be sauteed in butter, drizzled with vinaigrette or have a ketchup dip right next to their plate.
Asking your children how they want their vegetables is better than forcing them to eat what they have on their plate. It is a good idea to ask them how you can make their meals more appetizing. For all you know, all it takes is to top their vegetables with grated cheese.
If your child is still reluctant in eating his vegetables after following the tips above, you can ask him to help you prepare your meal. If you get your ingredients fresh from the garden, involve him in harvesting them with you. It is unlikely that he will refuse what he helped cook if he spent time participating in preparing them.
Tactics like sneaking vegetables into other foods can also be used. But this is only a temporary fix to make your child eat vegetables. The goal here is to allow him to get used to the real taste of vegetables so that in the future, you can easily and effortlessly prepare healthy meals without pleading, forcing or battling with them.
Recognize their refusal to eat vegetables and try new foods that they might like. But if you slowly introduce healthy eating and set a good example, your child will eventually give in. All you have to do now is to be consistent in teaching this eating habit and build it up.